Daniel, Paul and Thessalonica
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“The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.” Daniel 8:8, NIV

The story of Thessalonica begins in the loins of Philip II of Macedon. Philip not only fathered the well-known son, Alexander the Great. He also fathered a daughter, Thessalonike. Philip fought many enemies to consolidate his power over Macedonia. At the time of one of […]

Sabbath: Joyous and Thankful
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Read for This Week’s Study: 1 Thess. 1:1-10, 1 Corinthians 13, 1 Tim. 1:15, Gal. 5:19-23, Dan. 12:2.

Memory Text: “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”(1 Thessalonians 1:2, 3, ESV).

Key Thought: Paul has many good things to say to the Thessalonians, at least when he begins writing to them in the first letter. What he praises […]

Further Study: Thessalonica in Paul’s Day
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“Providence had directed the movements of nations, and the tide of human impulse and influence, until the world was ripe for the coming of the Deliverer. . .

“At this time the systems of heathenism were losing their hold upon the people. Men were weary of pageant and fable. They longed for a religion that could satisfy the heart.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 32.

“Outside of the Jewish nation there were men who foretold the appearance of a divine instructor. […]

Inside Story: Etienne’s Second Chance
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Most Adventist churches in Haiti hold evangelistic meetings in January. Etienne’s host family invited her to attend the meetings in their church. Etienne went to please her hosts, but she paid little attention to the speaker.

Then on January 12, 2010, the earth shook furiously. Etienne staggered out of the house just moments before it collapsed. She stared in disbelief at the rubble around her. Once again she was homeless. Then she realized, God has saved me again. “Lord,” she prayed, […]

Keepin’ It Real
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Signs Showing Directions to Many Paths

“Postmodern” is the descriptor for our world today. For me, the word dredges up mental pictures of grey post-apocalyptic cityscapes populated by grey, blank-eyed, place fillers.

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

In reality though, our postmodern world is peopled with armies of highly engaged individuals who can access a wealth of information on almost any topic with just a few swipes at the screen of their smartphone. Maybe a side effect of this information glut is our society’s relativism.

Relativism is […]

03: Thessalonica in Paul’s Day – Thought Starters
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“Mom! Dad! Where’s everybody?” Ariston let his sandals clack against the hard surface of the walkway as he dashed through the Thessalonian house where he lived with his family.

Image © Standard Publishing from GoodSalt.com

“Over here!” His mother called from the corner of the house where she was mixing dough for flat bread. “What is so urgent?”

“Can I go see Paul?” Ariston was breathing hard. He crossed his legs and held out his hands to his mother as he sat […]

Thursday: Home Churches
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Read Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; and Philemon 1, 2. What do all these texts have in common?

In the Roman world there were two main types of residences. There was the domus, a large, single-family home built around a courtyard, typical of the wealthy. Such a home could provide a meeting place for 30-100 people. The other type of residence was the insula, with shops and workplaces on the ground floor facing the street and apartments (flats) on the floors above. This was the primary […]

Wednesday: Paul, the “Street Preacher”
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Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

The first-century Greco-Roman context experienced a proliferation of popular philosophers who, in public forums, sought to influence individuals and groups-similar to what street preachers might do today.

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

These philosophers believed that people had an inner capacity to change their lives (a form of conversion). Philosophers would use public speech and private conversation in order, they hoped, to produce change in their students. They sought to create in their listeners doubts regarding their current ideas and […]

03: Thessalonica in Paul’s Day – Teaching Plan
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Key Thought : Presenting the gospel in a way that meets the needs of others requires a solid grasp of the Word and an understanding of the needs of those we wish to reach.

[Teaching plan for “Thessalonica in Paul’s Day” July 16.2012]

1. Have a volunteer read John 11:48-50.

A. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
B. How does the current political situation in your community affect the work of […]

Tuesday: The Gospel as a Point of Contact
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Given what we learned yesterday, it is not difficult to see why-when the gospel came to Thessalonica-many non-Jews of the city responded positively. Whether or not Paul was aware of the Cabirus cult before arriving in the city, his Messianic approach in the synagogue resonated with the unique spiritual longings of the local pagans.

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When the gospel came to Thessalonica, the working classes of the city were ready for it, and they responded in large […]

Monday: A Pagan Response to Rome
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The pagan response to the powerlessness many Thessalonians felt was a spiritual movement scholars call the Cabirus cult. The cult was grounded in a man named Cabirus who spoke up for the disenfranchised and was eventually murdered by his two brothers. He was buried along with symbols of royalty, and the cult came to treat him as a martyred hero.

Image © Krieg Barrie from GoodSalt.com

The lower classes believed that Cabirus had exhibited miraculous powers while alive. They also believed […]

Sunday: The Romans Arrive in Thessalonica
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Image © Erik Stenbakken from GoodSalt.com

Read John 11:48-50. How were the political and religious decisions regarding the ministry of Jesus impacted by the arrival of the Romans in first-century Palestine and Jerusalem? Think through the logic expressed here. In what frightening ways does it make sense?

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In the context of a civil war among the Greek city-states, the Thessalonians invited the Romans to take over their city and protect it from local enemies around 168 b.c. The Romans rewarded Thessalonica for […]